State of the art
A number of authors have discussed the impact of climate change impacts on ecosystems and societies due to snow and glacier retreat as well as potential adaptation procedures (e.g. Bellisario et al., 2013; Bonelli et al., 2014; Meza et al., 2012; Oyarzún & Oyarzún, 2011; Salazar, 2014; Souvignet et al., 2010; Valdés-Pineda et al., 2014). The most common adaptation measures include artificial dams (Vergara et al., 2007), pumping of sea water or desalinated sea water, as it is already occurring in some mining projects in the north of Chile, or recharging ground water reservoirs. Another high controversial measure proposed was covering part of a glacier with a geotextile during the summer season in order to reduce the ablation (e.g. Olefs and Fischer, 2008), artificial replenishment of snow on a glacier surface or even the artificial formation of a new glacier (e.g. Marangunic, 2010b). Some EbA measure projects have been carried out in the tropical Andes as e.g. the implementation of EbA measures in pilot schemes, implementation of alternative climate change resistant crops in Bolivia (UNFCCC, 2004) or developing adaptation approaches at national level and design restoration activities in pilot areas of Colombia (UNFCCC, 2011). Other methods focus on a hazard management as an immediate entry point for longer term adaptation actions based on ecosystem solutions (IUCF, 2014). The project “Quantifying and Improving the Protective Capacity of Forests against Snow Avalanches site in Chile” carries out a Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis (CVCA) to promote innovation at local level. Another project aims at strengthening ecosystem resilience in Nepal, Peru and Uganda and makes use of an integrated analysis of ecosystem services demand and supply based on human pressures on natural resources and conducts a Vulnerability Impact Assessment (VIA) (UNEP, 2010). Other approaches emphasize the support of the implementation of adaptation measures design to address the consequences of climate change in the water supply and hydrological regulation provided by high-mountain wetlands in Colombia (BID, 2014a) or underline the institutional capacity of adaptation in water and land use in the region of Mendoza, Argentina (BID, 2014b). Such measures rely on the use of a cost-benefit analysis to present political decision makers.
The European Commission initiated an adaption strategy in 2013 to strengthen Europe’s resilience to the impacts of climate change by promoting better informed decision-making in key vulnerable sectors (EC, 2013). A key tool for the dissemination of EbA strategies and solutions at the European level is the European Climate Adaptation Platform (CLIMATE-ADAPT) hosted by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency (EC, 2016a). This platform aims to support in adapting to climate change providing information, best-practice guidance and tools regarding the expected climate change in Europe. Several research and knowledge projects on climate change adaptation are currently conducted on European, transnational and national levels such as the FP7 projects ECONADAPT – The economics of climate change adaptation (Hunt et al., 2016), CLIMSAVE – Climate change integrated assessment methodology for cross-sectoral adaptation and vulnerability in Europe (Harrison et al., 2016), MEDIATION – Methodology for Effective Decision-Making on Impacts and Adaption (Swart et al., 2016) and ACQWA – Assessing Climate impacts on the quantity and quality water (Beniston et al., 2014) focusing on adaption and policy implications of climate change impacts on the quantity of water in Alpine regions and the project AdaptAlp – Adaption to Climate Change in the Alpine Space (Kogelnig et al., 2011). The EU-NWRM promotes best practice on Natural Water Retention Measures in Europe to foster EbA solutions safeguarding and enhancing the water storage potential of landscape, soils and aquifers, by restoring ecosystems (EC, 2016b). In the extratropical Andes, EbA measures are still not sufficiently addressed in planning strategies. The results of this project will feed in the planning strategies of key environmental agencies. Biodiversity losses and specific vulnerabilities in the Central Andean region have been addressed in a number of international and regional research projects and policies (UNDP, 2015; BID, 2014; UNEP, 2010; Vergara, 2007). The Andean EbA project will build up on these initiatives and systematically evaluate and document suitable EbA measures and strategies for each of the typical Andean ecosystems.